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The Festival of Science and Curiosity 2016

Confusing the Senses with Our Confuserphones

For the second year, Ignite! spent the February half term leading The 2016 Festival of Science and Curiosity across the city of Nottingham. Following the busy week, I spoke with Ignite!'s Programme Manager Hasmita Chavda about the festival.

Hi Hasmita, Can you tell us a little about The Festival of Science and Curiosity?

Hasmita: The Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity is a annual celebration of science, with a busy line-up of events for families and the local community to take part in for free. This February half term saw the second year of the festival, with events ranging from toddlers learning how to solder, science busking in shopping centres and chemical tricks in the libraries. The festival is delivered by STEM CITY a partnership of science organisations, educational institutions and the city council. Ignite! is the lead organisation. See the full list of partners here.

How did it start and why?

Hasmita: The festival was started in 2014 to engage more young people and their families with science, in a informal setting. We wanted to show everybody that science is everywhere, that it can be fun, hands on and is full of possibilities. The Festival is aimed at young people and their families, however open for anyone curious about something and for those who ask; 'What is happening there?'

Why Science? Why Curiosity?

Hasmita: We really want to promote the idea that asking questions is as - if not more - important than having answers. Curiosity, asking why and being playful are at the heart of this, however questions and play are rarely viewed together.

Science Busking at Intu Broadmarsh Shopping Centre

Who else is involved?

Hasmita: This year we worked with two primary event hosts: the Nottingham libraries services and Intu Broadmarsh shopping centre. The Event Programme also included activities from the UKs largest Hackspace, Nottinghack, right the way through to horticulture education organisation, Green Scene. Towards the end of the festival we saw a two day youth parliament event, called Debate Science which was held at Council House and ran as part of the EU Science Parliaments.

What happened at this years festival? Any highlights?

Hasmita: Personal highlights this year were seeing a 3 year old soldering her own LED badge with her father and having Nottingham University's indoor planetarium, the Inflativerse, blown up in Broadmarsh centre, seeing it evoke people's curiosity and then watching families crawling into the large dome. The festival is particularly awesome, as it is supported by so much goodwill and combined aspirations to inspire young people.

Can you tell us about two of your infamous science busking experiments? Something we can try at home!

Hasmita: We have such a great time doing is Science Busking - doing short and simple science experiments in public spaces. These short experiments make everyone say, WOW. A lot of these experiments use everyday household objects, so are easy to replicate and experiment with at home.

Here's two to give a go:

Jedi Straw Experiment

  1. Step One: Take on straw, repeatedly rub it against your hair or on a cotton cloth

  2. Step Two: Balance the 'charged' straw on top of a bottle (plastic bottles with lids work best)

  3. Step Three: Place your hands on either side of one end of the straw and you will be able to attract and repel the straw to and away from you.

  4. Step Four: Spin the straw around without ever touching it! It's like having Jedi powers!

Slinky Spring

  1. Step One: Tie two pieces of string to the end of a metal slinky and make loops holes so you can hold the string with your fingers

  2. Step Two: Put your fingers into the string loops and ask a friend to hold the slinky up.

  3. Step Three: Put your fingers in your ears and then ask your friend to drop the slinky!

  4. Step Four: Be WOWed! by the sound. Move the slinky around and the sound will change.

When is the next one and how can we get involved?

The next one will be in February half term 2017. Watch this space and if you are interested to get involved, email me at


Top film made about the festival by Journalism student, Samuel Boyle. Follow him on Twitter @samboyle93.

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